Morris Claiborne. Nope.
Trent Richardson. Have fun in Cleveland.
Luke Kuechly. We'll see ya twice a year.
Justin Blackmon. Jacksonville isn't that bad.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers threw everyone a curveball in the first round of the NFL Draft, trading the fifth overall pick to Jacksonville for the rights to the Jags top pick (seventh overall) and a fourth rounder. After watching the Jags select Blackmon with the pick, the Bucs saw Claiborne go to Dallas (via trade).
And finally, the Bucs were on the clock.
With needs aplenty, Tampa elected to address a glaring hole, selecting talented Alabama safety Mark Barron with the seventh overall pick. Barron was widely regarded as the best safety available in this year’s class.
Here’s a look at the NFL’s draft card on Barron looks like:
Overview: Barron was an imposing defender at Alabama. He simply looked like a professional, from the way that he prepared and warmed up to his productivity and on-field presence. A stalwart at safety, he has the size and athletic ability to contribute right away in the NFL. He has the range and ball skills to make big plays and is an active defender against the run. Barron projects as a top-50 pick.
Strengths: Barron reads routes and defends the run well. He has good hands and reacts quickly, allowing him to make plays on the ball, which he is often near. He is a sure tackler and uses sound foot technique to put himself in great position. He transitions well in coverage and can defend a variety of offensive players in different positions. Against the run, Barron comes downfield with a head of steam; he can also fluidly run down and cover fast receivers against the pass.
Weaknesses: Barron can be lazy with his backpedal and will hesitate in transition due to his size, but these flaws don't come up often. He occasionally launches himself into the ball carrier, a tendency that could be a liability in the NFL. Barron might not be an All-Pro as a rookie, but he showed few weaknesses in college while demonstrating many traits that will serve him well at the next level.
With the release of Tanard Jackson and the unwillingness to bring back Sean Jones, Tampa Bay was in dire need of effective help at the safety position. The free agent spending spree that brought in wide receiver Vincent Jackson, offensive lineman Carl Nicks, and cornerback Eric Wright left little wiggle room for the Bucs at the position. The chance to add another draft pick to move down and still get Barron was too attractive an option for Dominik and company to pass up.
Barron (6’1”, 213 pounds) should be a fixture in the starting lineup from day one. With only Cody Grimm, Larry Asante, Ahmad Black, and newly added Ron Girault on the roster at the position, Barron should quickly become the head of the class.
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